B Gata H Kei: the Fifteen Year Old Virgin

Is virginity a character flaw?

Traditionally in Japan young girls were assumed to be maidens, to the point where the terms were at times used interchangeably. Perhaps in today’s sex-positive, metropolitan world, it’s assumed that youngsters of both genders will fool around.

In that light, B gata H kei appears to be something of a deconstruction of high schoolers’ attitudes towards sex. The details strain credulity (aiming for 100 casual sex partners in high school? Really?) but the overall idea that impressionable and insecure teens feel obligated to put on airs is dead on. It’s interesting that so much of the main character’s insecurities rest on the gross physical details of her anatomy, but what better symbol for the teenaged preoccupation with sex?

It’s also interesting that there has been no feminist backlash against this. While Equality Now campaigned against erotic games such as Rapelay for objectifying women and supposedly setting bad examples that would hurt their self-esteem, B gata H kei is arguably far more damaging to that self-esteem, as on the surface it presents justification for sexual objectification coming from women and not men. Where is your sense of self worth as an individual when everything rides on your ability to find partners for casual sex? In the world of B gata H kei, some women aren’t objectified by men so much as they consider themselves sex objects first and foremost, rather than people.

The first sexual encounter Yamada envisions takes place not in a home or car, but a love hotel. In her imagination, it ends badly, with the boy disdaining her inexperience and implying that she is clearly lacking as a woman. Her desire to avoid this mortifying outcome leads her to reject the real boy’s advances flat-out. In America, we might expect this kind of terrified embarrassment from a forty-year-old virgin, but Yamada is fifteen. The way she justifies her rejection is telling as well: rather than insist on her personal right to like or not like someone, she insists that she can do better and deserves “a good man.”  It’s as if her own tastes aren’t supposed to enter into it.

Having rejected the boy, she then does a 180 and decides to chase a random guy she sees at the bookstore. This isn’t done with anything approaching timidity or modesty, mind you: she all but forces herself on him, and confusion is the result. Why the divide? It makes no sense until one recalls that in Japan, even men who love to chase women often hate aggressive females, dubbed “carnivore women.” Perhaps the intended message is that this attitude is manifestly nonsensical, whether employed by salarymen or by this fictional high school girl – what does it matter who initiates as long as both parties are interested?

As a commentary on – and parody of – immature attitudes towards sex, the premise of B gata H kei works. That premise, however, does not seem to justify an entire season’s worth of episodes. Only time will tell if B gata H kei keeps itself interesting by tackling other social issues, or if it beats a dead horse.

Author: moritheil

One might be forgiven for thinking that Moritheil is a postmodern literary critic who started reviewing video games in 2001, and spent the early 2000s learning at the right hand of con staff and fansubbers. However, those rumors are spurious: Moritheil is actually a distant relative of Genghis Khan who stands poised to conquer the world via the Internet. Follow along at http://twitter.com/moritheil.

26 thoughts on “B Gata H Kei: the Fifteen Year Old Virgin

  1. Hahaha, golden cherry or hanamaru cherry? Very funny! I love this anime! I wish there were girls like Yamada in my high school years, so I would never have become Otaku today. Ah, I wish I could return to high school. I regret I was born too early.

    Since Christianization and westernization, the notion of virginity and “shojo” spread among common people in Japan. Before that, Japanese society was very skinship-oriented. So I think this anime is a sign that we are returning to our real roots.

    Yes, true about demanding girls are not popular right now, but we need more Nikusyoku-kei(carnivorous) girls like we see in anime. Since Otaku are Soushoku-kei(herbivorous). I commend Yamada for taking an initiative, making a move! Anime is the forerunner of feminism, female power!

  2. Hmm… Who said that guys cannot become sexual objects?
    Yamada is not objectifying herself because she is the predator in the relationship. She just shows the natural insecurity of a virgin girl.
    Anyway, this is all played for the laughs. You probably overanalyzed the show. I bet that Yamada won’t lose her virginity any time soon.

  3. Monsieur LaMoe – It’s kind of interesting the way you phrase that – as if environment is the prime determining factor in how you turn out, and not your own decisions. I think one of the things B gata H kei shows, however, is that even a girl eager to sleep with a guy can wind up making him horribly embarrassed, ashamed, and awkward. So I don’t really know that the presence of such girls would result in fewer otaku.

    If we look back at Edo era attitudes, you are absolutely right – people were more relaxed about sex before marriage.

    Son Gohan – It’s not that guys can’t become sexual objects, just that if they’re going to condemn ero games for objectification, I can’t see how self-objectification is any better. In her dealings with guys, Yamada definitely objectifies herself.

    I certainly agree that this is about teenage insecurities regarding sex, and one girl’s headlong rush towards something she frankly isn’t ready for. If I had to guess, it might veer into “love is needed after all” territory, but it’s a little early to tell.

  4. I don’t think the producers had any intention to get that deep or seriously reflect social gender issues. Otherwise, they picked a rather poor medium because I’m definitely too busy laughing to really think on it.

    Besides, the way Yamada thinks COMBINED with the way she acts… such contradicting traits are rather unrealistic and disconnected with reality IMO, especially in Japan’s society.

  5. Well, Yamada’s problem is that she’s only targeting one guy. I’m sure if she targets dudes more randomly, more potential otakus will be saved since otaku never gets to experience any sexual advance from girls. I remember in Japanese high school girls treated me like vermin. Thus, I got PTSD, ended up taking refuge in anime.

    In Japan, even if a dude had sex with prostitute but never with non-pro girl, he is still a cherry. They will brand him Shirouto Doutei (amateur cherry). But at least Yamada wants H with a cherry, and that’s a big relief. So, Japan is getting better.

    But, virgin bashing is much more harsh in America. Recently I went to college comedy show, and a standup comedian girl joked, “How do you spot a virgin? Just look at people with Pikachu at AnimeExpo.” That was very offensive. Even in the West like America, Otaku are disdained. I could sense imperialist arrogance in her tone. Her attitude was exactly what Edward Said depicted in “Orientalism.”

    I wasn’t that afraid of feminist backlash, but more worried about China’s protest, due to the fact that making 100 H-friends is referred to Hyakunin-Giri (cut 100 people). In Kimi Ni Todoke, Yano-chin is rumored to have accomplished Hyakunin-Giri. This slang is politically incorrect, and I was afraid it would offend the Chinese government, damaging Shino-Japanese relationship, but nothing happened so far.

    “Hyakunin-Giri” was dude’s stuff to show off their masculinity, but now it seems girls are also doing that as well, which is really wonderful. I hope Yamada will stick to her creed instead of chasing just one cherry, so more potential otaku will be saved.

  6. @Monsieur LaMoe: I’m not sure how many people still subscribe to the maxim: “Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.” [Someone like] Yamada-san may prove to be, shall I say, too *much* for [people like] those whom your post referenced.

  7. @Accl

    That’s a beautiful English maxim from Victorian period. “Tis better to have fxxked and lost, than to never have fxxked at all,” would be today’s maxim, in other words, “nothing is worse than being a virgin.” That discours ties down a 40-years-old virgin and 15-years-old virgin. Is Yamada-san similar to that American Beauty girl?

    Maybe some dudes are too macho to be Uke(in heterosexual terms). Yet the most awesome thing is that she wants us. Our unwanted unmarketable fellows, Yamada-san would make us all desirable. So we’d be able to have unity with girls. But in anime, even if we are undesirable, we can have unity with moekko. Blessed are Otaku for theirs is the kingdom of Moe.

  8. @Accl
    Owner of a lonely heart! Owner of a lonely heart (much better than a) owner of a broken heart!

  9. @Appius

    LOL! You’re genius! Yes! Owner of a lonely heart! The early 80s!

    K-ON should cover that song!

  10. @Appius: Thanks for backing me up… It’s good to see that _someone_ agrees with me.

  11. @jpmeyer – Yamada thinks of herself in terms of packaging and social status, and what she might be expected to want, rather than in terms of what she herself wants. In other words, she interacts with the world as the sex object others perceive her to be.

    @Aorii – The disconnect between action and desire is present to some degree in all works with social commentary. Of course, the main thrust of B gata H kei isn’t deep social commentary, but elements are present in the work and may be examined. I don’t really have much to say about the rest of it, as the visuals are neither stunning nor unwatchably bad.

    @Monsieur LaMoe – “Thus, I got PTSD, ended up taking refuge in anime.”

    Well, I’m not questioning that, but rather noting that there are other ways to wind up into anime, and things far worse than anime to become obsessed with, from a social standpoint (like the chikan, perhaps.) I could conceivably see a really bad experience with someone being traumatic. So I’m not really sure that girls attempting promiscuity in high school is necessarily the salvation of otaku. It’s an interesting thought, though.

    You’re right that otaku in America do get scorned but it is a generalized scorn that accompanies many other types of geeks (chess players, trivia buffs, etc.) I wonder, would you say that the scorn for otaku in Japan is reserved for them alone, or does it fall equally on others?

    @Accl – People now hate risk, and they are encouraged to do so.

  12. I have to admit, I’m not offended by this at all. I actually think it’s great. Female sexuality is such a rarely approached topic as guys are suppose to be the ones obsessed with sex. I think it’s refreshing to have something, especially an anime come out and say that yes, girls can want sex. They can want it bad, and not want the relationship part. It’s breaking the stereotype commonly presented that girls only have sex to please men.

  13. @Moritheil

    Yes, I recognize some traumatized people get hooked on other stuff: religion, gamble, drug, alcohol. Some become Hikikomori. They need Misaki of N.H.K. I was thinking about converting to JW, so I could get to “know” Misaki.

    Yes, some become a mass-murderer like that Korean student in Virginia. If only he married Dakimakura. I don’t know if that incident caused backlash against Asian students like 911 did to Muslim students. Is this why I can’t get any in America?

    So, as Hikikomori psychiatrist Dr. Saito says, it’s hard to discuss Otaku without sexuality. One of the primary reasons of becoming Otaku is trauma in adolescent years, starting to realize the other but failing to achieve oneness with girls; lack of skinship and alienation. Yamada might have been our savior, but we can’t go back to high school unless there is Doraemon. It’s past. So, moe on 2D girls is salvation for us.

    Chess-players are seen as incel in America? Very interesting. I thought chess-players were well-respected, an intellectual sport of the Ivy League.

    I would say that type of scorn is primarily for Otaku in Japan. But it is much better now than it used to be, right after the Miyazaki incident in 1989, which caused otaku-bashing.

  14. I thought this was just a ridiculous premise, and the horrible way the protagonist was acting just grated on my nerves. Then again, I’m a bit of a traditionalist in that I see no point in having oodles of sex partners. Sure, it might feel good physically, but the emotional side contributes much to the experience, too.

    That, and STDs…>.>

    I personally don’t really see how sexual experience can ‘save’ an otaku, either… o.o Not like I want saving, ohoho. XD

    @Appius @Accl But broken hearts inspire so much angsty poetry, and all the miserable love songs out there! 😛

  15. Well, the point is that there is a female Newtype in Japan, a Nikushoku-kei girl aiming at 100 H-friends.

    Japan’s youth culture used to be Yanki-dominated during the 80s and 90s. Yanki or DQN is a typical Nikushoku-kei boy: “bad guys”. Comedians like Takeshi Kitano was a rep of Yanki macho culture, but this will eventually go away. Now with the emergence of Akiba culture, boys are getting more Soshoku-kei. Some of them don’t drink alcohol, rather hang out at a pastry store. They don’t do “dude’s stuff.” They’d have been beaten up during the 90s, but now they can proudly walk.

    So, within a decade, we see how society changes. This is culturally a significant paradigm shift in Japan, like America can now have black President. And it’ll be cool if President is Okama. Then, he can be really B-gata H-kei, since he is Barack(B) Hussein (H). Or Barrack Hentai Okama? President Hentai. Or Barack Hideyoshi Okama. Thus B.H. Okama. Thus B-gata H-kei.

    I was Soshoku-kei in Japan, but was too early. Now it’s better for us, but girls are not really embracing this new trend. That’s the problem.

    The more men evolve, the less aggressive men are. We don’t really need physically threatening male in today’s society. We are not living in the wild, protecting ourselves from the beasts. So in that sense, Soshoku-kei are leading evolution. Yet, girls are still attracted to violent Yanki. But as they evolve, they’ll be like Yamada salivating over us. We haven’t seen that much of evolution from girls, but this anime is premonition. The future is promising.

    I wish there were girls like Yamada in my high school years. So I’d never have ended up being Hikikomori. Then I came here for freedom, but what kind of free country is this? After all, I’ve come to realize it is still 3D. But freedom is found in anime, and moe is salvation for us Otaku.

  16. If you really think about it, though, if you’re a soshoku-kei, wouldn’t you be, well, threatened by a nikushoku-kei…? (The very metaphor implies you wouldn’t survive the engagement, lol. :P)

    So do you want to be more aggressive, or do you want girls to like herbivores more..? I personally like non-violent guys, but sometimes there’s no good in being too forceful as a girl, especially when being with a more gentle guy.

  17. I’m bored and I just had to…

    @Monsieur LaMoe it’s really interesting to see that point of a view, but you aren’t really giving much credit to girls, are you? It seems like you see them generally as a mass who just go for a single type of a man. As for what you’ve experienced in school, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t mean ALL girls in the world thought you were a vermin. As not all boys, all girls are not so shallow either. I’m sure there are girls and women there, ready to “save” (willing to go out, date, have sex etc) Otakus like you but you just fail to see them because you’ve stop looking. (But if you’re after young, moe high school girls, be ready to be disappointed more often because at that age a lot of girls are still very immature. I’d say more potential to Otaku’s “saviors” are reasonable, more mature girls but these types are not common in high schools no matter what anime claims.)

    The pressure from media against girls (and boys, too) is so heavy these days that many of them fear of being absolute worthless if they (think they) are not sexually attractive to the point they feel they’re better with being seen as an objects than as a persons. This IMHO is really, really f*cked up and I don’t think this anime is making it any better.

    80’s or 90’s, Yanki or Soshoku-kei, in a long run it doesn’t matter as long as you like to be with them. You can’t exactly choose who you fall for.

    And this comes from a non-virgin, upper secondary school European Fangirl who finds herself relatively attractive and gives a shiet of media stereotypes. She also thinks writing this comment was a waste of her time, but well, atm she had no better things to do.

  18. @jenn

    Haha, well, that’s in case of being in a state of intimate relationship, which Otaku never gets a chance to have, that’s what makes them lamentable. Even just a little kiss with girl they can’t achieve. If only there were more Nikushoku girls…

    I’m really glad that you desire Soshoku-kei boys. What a relief. We Otaku can be just the way we are then. We can be ourselves. You are leading the evolution.

    Yes, I thought about changing myself to be more nikushoku-kei at one point, but my nature is Soshoku-kei, and I’m not a good actor. I’m Otaku after all.

    I can hear Billy Joel’s saxophone (if you ever watched Kimi-Kiss).

  19. @naminami

    We stop looking? Give me a break. I read “Makeinu no toboe” by Sakai Junko, and she blames Otaku for not looking at real girls. Ms. Sakai thinks a reason girls can’t get married is that there’re too many Akiba-kei. But first of all, who made us Otaku? Them girls! Eric Clapton, your fellow European bluesman, also sings “Before you accuse me.” They never objectified us but treated us like trash, and now they’re blaming us because we aren’t looking at them? For looking at other women(2-D girls)? Give me a break. Then, why not objectify us now? Come and get us. Hunt us. Be a hunter, or Nikushoku-kei. It’d be awesome if they’re really hunting us, but that’s not the case; how many Otaku we have in Japan? Ms. Sakai fails to recognize why we’ve become Otaku in the first place. Since then, she’s been declared to be our archenemy in Japan.

    Otaku are high school students in their heart. We’re 17 years old spiritually. There’s even a cult group in Japan, the notorious 17-sai-kyo led by Inoue Kikuko. That’s why moekko are exclusively high school girls. We wish to return to high school, pressing the reset button to remake our lives like a video game, but that’s physically impossible in 3-D, so we try to attain moe by achieving oneness with moekko in 2-D.

    Yes, the mainstream media are brainwashing folks that Otaku are losers. That’s why we’re trying to debunk that myth and spread the truth that Otaku are the actual winner. That’s what the Good News is all about.

    Yes, sexual preference may not be a choice. But why a dozen of girls fall for Yanki? Because they’re evolutionarily challenged. Their evolution is extremely slow, even though we’re already in a different millennium. But in a long run, it doesn’t matter because girls will eventually fall for Soshoku-kei once they are totally evolved. We regret that we can’t live long enough to see that day, we wish to be immortal and eternally young. That’s why we have anime, providing us with a dream of eternal youth.

    I’m glad that you’re making a comment with highly educated English all the way across the Atlantic. I can’t even write a cohesive sentence in Ameringlish, well I’m an immigrant though, so is our governator from Europe. I never lived in the EU, so I don’t know what freedom is like over there. I can tell you Japan is not a free country, very different from what anime depicts of Japanese society. America advertises to the world that she’s a free country with Hollywood films, but folks are lied to. After all it’s all 3-D. So I seek freedom in moe. Thanks for sympathizing with me for what I went thru in my high school years. That’s so kind of you. I really appreciate that.(^_^)

  20. Completely agree with what naminami says.

    @MLM: Well look, you aren’t being fair to naminami either. 😛 Being available is part of being hunted too, if you want to put it that way. Somehow I don’t think having your heart set on achieving oneness with moekko=being available…

    And how come guys get the excuse of becoming otaku because of lack of female attention, while girls don’t? 😛 How about girls being put off guys because they’re seen as too much of a sex object? I think it’s a bit sad that you view being an otaku as a last resort. 🙁 I know it has a bad rep in Japan, but elsewhere in the world, people like what they like. Plus, I’m sure there are people aside from otaku who are soushoku-kei. These guys don’t even have moe to live for! 😛

    Besides, people are too complex to be put into two categories. I wonder what Dr House would be considered..

    Anyway, I think I’ll just sit in my ‘casual sex ain’t everything’ corner. Though if you’re interested, you could try reading Neil Strauss’s The Game. 😛 Meanwhile, I’ll be reading episodics of B Gata H Kei…a surprising amount goes on in episode 2, but not enough for me to get over the dodgy premise and actually watch it. -wry-

    Maybe I misrepresented myself. XD Just because my preferred guy is caring doesn’t mean he doesn’t sometimes take the initiative. Life and chances for love go far beyond high school..

    And no — kimikiss came out before I got over my ‘gah it’s a harem again!’ phase.

  21. @jenn

    Look, we’re available. Just talk to us, hit on us, ask us out! Probably we’re the most available people on earth. But the problem is that we aren’t sexually objectified despite our immense availability. We’ll be caught by surprise, probably impact our pessimistic weltanschauung shaped by traumatic adolescent years if girls really hit on us. Even a radical Otaku, claiming that he’s only faithful to 2-D girls, may be available. This type of Otaku is claimed to have mastered Goshin (self-defense) from women’s seduction. He’s the most revered, almost in the state of Buddha in that sense. But the thing is, no girl has seduced him in his life. So we don’t really know if he really mastered Goshin or not.

    Why aren’t girls taking the initiative at all? Why won’t they be in charge? Why is it unilaterally dudes doing that. It’s insane. Girls don’t walk up to us, start conversation, ask our number and email, and set up a date. Simply Nikushoku-kei girls are non-existent in our real lives. We’ve only seen these 3-D girls in TV shows such as Sex & the City, especially Samantha Jones. Evolution is taking too slow. If evolution is taking place as it should be, “The Game” won’t be a bestseller.

    Soshoku-kei boys are the most evolved male, but still there’re too many Yanki, physically threatening aggressive dudes, and too many passive girls. And there are too many male polygamy, where is polyandry? One dominant male takes all girls, e.g, Dr. Hagen of “Agent Aika,” winner-takes-all system (notoriety of the US electoral college), nothing different from a monkey world. They haven’t evolved from monkeys that much, only the amount of hair. That’s why we end up being an incel and eventually Otaku. That’s why 3-D is very macho. Househusbands are still very few. Male preschool teachers are few too. That’s why “Hanamaru Kindergarten” was a culturally significant anime.

    Moreover, America never had female President and Vice President. Japan never had female Premier, and female Emperor is not allowed. Only in anime, girls are really powerful, totally evolved, taking charge of the world, and that type of girl is what feminists idealize. The student council president is always girl in anime.

    Thus, anime is salvation for Otaku. Evolution is just too slow, and before we saw the advent of anime-like girls, we would be dead by then. We were born too early. Too bad I was born in the wrong time. And it’s too late to go back to high school. It’s impossible to regain what we lost. There’s only the Paradise Lost. I’m from a Buddhist culture, but I’m not sure if reincarnation really exists. But unfortunately I’m sure that immortality is impossible in 3-D. So moe on the 2-D girls is our salvation, especially oneechan for me. Blessed are Otaku for theirs is the Kingdom of moe.

  22. @Monsieur LaMoe, I’m not familiar neither with Sakai Junko or Eric Clapton (but Sakai’s theory about how girls can’t get married seems ridiculous haha).

    Right, if you want to be hunted, go out, meet people. Sooner or later someone will get interested and go for you. If looks isn’t one of your strengths, try to bring up your good character traits instead or something. (But then again, if you’re 17 years old spiritually, like you clam, you don’t even belong to a bar.) What kind of girls are Otaku looking anyway? High school girls are immature and busy with their teen romance fantasies. If you just dream about moekko that makes you no better than your high school girls who just dream about yanki.

    To be honest I don’t get this thing you talk about evolution here. Evolution is something that happens during thousands of years. IMO you’re mixing something up with a changing of attitudes. It’s not like men “evolve” faster than women and geez, if we go your way let it be like: Otaku = girls’ fault, submissive and shy girls = mens fault.

    Oh, I’m a fangirl and I would love to objectify men (especially bishies) but I don’t think men would appreciate that irl because it is just not fun. It makes you feel worthless and sad so I don’t understand why you would ask to be objectified.

    Stop complaining and and regretting and being bitter of something that’s clearly a waste and far gone past. Look around! If you want dominant girls, you’ll find them! Women are in leading positions, just look at Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Tarja Halonen or Julija Tymoshenko. Women like Samantha Jones EXISTS and this comes from someone whose friend resembles her greatly.

    Or could it be Otaku just can’t deal with the fact they’re growing up and don’t have the courage to face the adult world? Or do they just need an excuse to justify their way of living (even though they don’t necessarily need to)? Srsly, I don’t know. But I know they’re not trash because no-one is. Even when I’m saying these things I’d want to understand Otaku.

    Hmm, I don’t know about the freedom in Europe because it can change a lot between the countries =D But I know EU is full of crazy and different people indeed. One of my future dreams is to visit Japan and get familiar with the life there.

    @jenn I LOVE DR. HOUSE <3

  23. @naminami

    You didn’t include Sarah Palin.

    >something that’s clearly a waste and far gone past.

    “clearly a waste”? What a harsh thing to say. That is really unbearable for the fact that how much I went thru emotionally as an Otaku. It’s really harsh. So painful…

    Anyway, it’s all good. We’ll move on. Thanks for your comments. It was fun reading your comments.


    Right. After all, it’s anime. I will just smile and move on!

  24. Agreed. The thread has gotten far afield from the original subject of the post. I’m closing the comments thread.

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